The Sunday Times had a Panelbase Scottish poll yesterday, with tables out today here – from memory I think it’s the first Scottish poll of the year. There are no voting intentions (or at least, none that have been published so far), instead it concentrates in Brexit and the potential for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

On independence voting intention remains little changed from the 2014 referendum – 46% would vote YES, 54% would vote NO. Opinion on whether there should be another referendum soon is pretty evenly split. Half want a referendum in the relatively near future (27% in the next year or two, 23% in “about two years, when the UK has finished negotiating to leave the EU”), half don’t want a second indyref in the next few years.

There is also little sign of any change of opinion on Europe since the referendum. Last year people in Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU, in a referendum tomorrow they say they would vote 61% to 39% to stay in the EU. Asking about some of the specifics on Brexit the poll asked about free trade and immigration, albeit in a slightly odd way (the question focused on just EU companies having access to Scottish markets, rather than vice-versa). By 65% to 11% people thought EU companies should still have free trade with Scotland, by just 40% to 36% they thought EU citizens should still have a right to live and work in Scotland.

Finally Panelbase asked if Britain left the EU, and then Scotland became independent, would people want an independent Scotland to join the European Union – an interesting question I don’t think I’ve seen asked before. 48% would support an independent Scotland joining the EU, 31% would be opposed.


167 Responses to “Panelbase Scottish poll”

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  1. @seachange

    I have written a longer reply to your question about Holyrood “returning” powers to the EU which has gone into moderation for some reason.

    But essentially, May has already signalled very clearly in her Brexit speech that there will be no significant devolution of new powers after Brexit and that is entirely consistent with Unionist policy to maintain the “UK Single Market”. We have already had the first decision on that with Rudd ruling out any country or regional flexibility on immigration.

    So that will not be a major issue.

  2. Dr Richard North has a blog post up today about the meat industry in the UK and how it may be affected by Brexit. The final few paragraphs carry most of the message, I think.

    A comment suggests that intra Irish meat trade might have to take place via Dunkirk.

    “We can enact all the Great Repeal Bills we like but there is no getting round this Directive: all exports from third countries must enter the EU via approved Border Inspection Posts, listed here. We can no longer send this type of traffic to Dover – there is no BIP there.

    The closest BIP is Dunkirk, but that can only handle 5,000 consignments a year. That is approximately equivalent to about 300 metric tons a day. Yet, in one day (average), the UK exports 8,000 metric tons of meat (including poultrymeat) to the EU. Include dairy products and all the rest, and we’re probably sending double that amount.

    Unless, by dint of heroic negotiation, we can get these requirements waived, UK exports of foods of animal origin will effectively cease once Brexit takes effect. And if Mrs May “walks away”, there is absolutely no chance of them continuing.

    Bizarrely, the industry does not seem to have woken up to this threat – and the politicians seem fast asleep. But unless EU law is actually different from that posted on the EU website, and we’re living in a parallel universe, UK food exporters are going to have a torrid time in a couple of years.”

    Here is the link:
    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86362#disqus_thread

  3. @millie

    “Such a new country would surely be economically viable, given the offshore assets.”

    Orkney is not close to Shetland. Shetland has offshore assets ( the oil is apparently very valuable to them but utterly worthless, indeed a burden, to Scotland!). Orkney has some potential re wave power but see below re economic zones.

    But why would Orkney and Shetland form a cohesive new country and do you have any polling evidence that they wish to?

    If they did international law would apply in determining where the economic zones would be drawn. Orkney’s in particular would be very constrained given that it is only a few miles off the Scottish mainland!

  4. @oldnat

    re signs at demos, I liked the understated one in America “I’m not normally a sign kind of guy but jeez”.

    The ones in Glasgow were less understated!

  5. @Sam – that is a very interesting post. There will no doubt be numerous examples of obscure impacts that few in government have thought of as and when we leave.

    While I don’t know anyone in the meat trade itself, I have spoken to a good number of farming friends and neighbours (mainly upland livestock farmers) and there seems to a genuine split here. On the one hand, pro Brexit farmers believe they are about to be freed from endless regulation and have a quaint belief that UK taxpayers will step in a maintain subsidies. The other side are very deeply worried that their industry and businesses are going to collapse.

    Their key worries are the loss of government subsidy, the fact that if we wish to export to the EU all regulations (including the much despised double tagging of sheep) will stay in place, free trade outside the EU will bring in cheaper exports, and the low value of sterling will (is already) bringing forward some crippling rises in fertilizer and feed prices. (Virtually all UK fertilizer is imported, a large volume of feed is also).

    While I try to remain balanced when finding out about things around Brexit I am not very famil!ar with, on this issue I think the leavers are seriously underthinking the issues. They are going to be in for an extremely nasty shock.

    The double tagging is a really good example. A pair of blithely ignorant sheep farmers I spoke to last week were insistent that as none of their flock is sold overseas, they wouldn’t have to double tag any longer. They completely failed to understand (even when this was being explained to them by an NFU official who was present) that traceability and flock contact records are part of a national (and pan EU) traceability policy.

    It doesn’t matter which individual flocks are exported – EU rules mean that they need to know if their non export flock has come into contact with any animals in the export trade, so they will need to comply regardless. Either that, or UK farms cease exporting to the EU entirely, which would be a bit of a mash, as 65% of live animal exports and 82% of meat product exports are to the EU. The choice is either accept entirely all EU fam regulation or see your export market decimated.

    It’s a very complex sector, as we actually import more from the EU than we export, but it’s largely complementary, with different types of produce flowing in and out, and UK farming wouldn’t survive if the EU export market was cut off.

    Just another one of those areas where reality has yet to sink in.

  6. Oh, for the love of dogs, let’s not do the “Orcadian/Shetlander nationalism” malarky again.

  7. Europeans have just released their inflation figures for January.

    Germany 1.9%
    France 1.4%
    Spain 3%
    Belgium 2.65%

    Overall eurozone rate 1.8%

    I wonder what is happening in Spain – they’re not secretly Sprexiting are they?

  8. It would be years before Scotland would be allowed to join the EU – the Spaniards wouldn’t allow it.
    They need to be careful, do the SNP. They’d be out of Britain, out of the EU and have a proper border with the UK.
    At least they’d have Fred Goodwin as the Governor of a new Central Bank…!

  9. CANDY
    I wonder what is happening in Spain – they’re not secretly Sprexiting are they?

    Why the R in Sprexiting?

    In any event, as they call themselves España, should Spain prove daft enough to want to leave the EU, it would be ESexiting.

  10. The only way is EsExiting…

  11. The rival poll supporting the planned visit of President Trump will almost certainly pass the 100,000 signatures mark within the next 30 minutes.

    What Larks!

  12. Pro Trump visit petition now comfortably over 100,000 and rising at more thn 7000 an hour. Not bad for a petition few probably know about. The original petition is over 1.6 million anf rising at over 8000 per hour.

    I think this shows what a wast of time these petitions are.

  13. One interesting point of note is that, apparently, no US President has ever been accorded a full state visit in their first year of office – until Donald Trump.

    Pro or anti his visit, I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that extending such a unique offer to Trump is warranted.

    Personally, I have nothing against a visit, but I would draw the line at a full state ceremony.

    On related matters: That Rasmussen poll does rather put things in perspective, as I suspected it might. The 57/33 split in favour of the travel bans really should give the protestors pause for thought. As @Candy alluded to, I suspect Trump is quite happy to have sparked a major cultural politics issue, although I remain equally convinced that the bigger story, and the story with far greater relevance for the longer term, is the cack handed way in which it was implemented. Bad governance has a habit of catching up with administrations, and electorally, doing something badly can be far more damaging than what they are actually trying to do.

    As with the UK, I have yet to see any real signs that the opposition understands why they lost. We are deep in ‘Trump is Evil’ territory here, with little apparent attempt to understand the cultural and economic disconnects that led to millions of people voting for him.

    Unless these matters are addressed, he will continue to draw strong support.

  14. @ Alec

    I am not a farmer but like you, perhaps, am interested in exploring, impartially, the possible impacts of Brexit.

    I had the impression, reading the Scottish NFU policy document to which I linked in an earlier post that farmers were divided over Brexit. I think agriculture is going to be badly affected. Scottish farmers depend heavily on subsidy – £450 million or so each year. If the BBC report is correct, Eustice has stated that subsidies by UK government will end in 2020. The Scottish budget is forecast to fall by around 6% in the period up to 2020. Whether a Scottish government can take up the making of subsidies is doubtful.

    Dairy farmers in Northern Ireland are likely to go out of business, according to this report.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/11/brexit-barriers-would-ruin-northern-ireland-dairy-farms-mps-told

  15. These ‘for’ and ‘against’ polls are an irrevelence.

    Scotland will never leave the U.K.
    I doubt if the leader of the SNP will ever call , sorry ask for , a second indyref.
    An independent Scotland therefore will not have the opportunity to join the E.U.

  16. @Sam – I think it is fair to say that farmers are divided, but I personally don’t think we can take from that a sense that the issues are finely balanced. Rather, my feeling is that those farmers who support Brexit simply don’t understand what is coming down the tracks at them.

    The three pillars of optimism I have picked up regularly are relative simply to appreciate, and are the idea that subsidies will continue unaffected, red tape will fall away, and we will open up lots of solid export markets.

    None of these is remotely true, in my view. There must be some hope for expanding overseas markets, but this will be set against the prospect of greater competition in the home markets. The only way UK farmers could compete with US farmers, for example, would be for a massive drop in standards. Whether this is acceptable to consumers I seriously doubt, but even if it was, overseas farming can often be done on an unimaginably large scale and UK producers simply won’t compete.

    I suspect farmers will be in for a pretty torrid time, and many of them realise this.

  17. Good afternoon all from a rather dull cold central London. Walking along Craven street this morning on my way to work I was greeted by my wee pal the cat. I’m not sure if the cat is a residential pet or belongs to one of the offices on the street to keep mice under control but if anyone ever happens to be walking along Craven street look out for a very friendly Ginger and white cat.
    ……………………
    OLDNAT

    ” Pre-referendum, they were all arguing on the same side – stay in the EU and the Single Market”

    “By the end of the year, things had changed. SCon, SLD and SLab had all adopted the stance of their Westminster colleagues (for SLab that’s hard to know!)”

    “SGP and SNP officially maintain their pre-referendum stance, but the Scottish Government significantly shifted the ground with their stance on post-Brexit”

    “While I reckon it was a genuine attempt to keep the opposition parties on board with a common approach, the emphasis on remaining part of the Single Market, rather than the EU, allows an easy shift to a “join EFTA” position”

    “What we haven’t yet seen is any polling on how Scots would view that option”
    ___________

    It would be interesting to see polling on how Scots view the EFTA position. It might actually bring together more Yes leave voters and No remain voters. If NS can find a compromise without being too Pro EU and not being too anti EU then EFTA might pay dividends.

    I know immigration isn’t as much of a contentious issue in Scotland as it is in rUK but I do feel NS might have to tone her enthusiasm for it down a notch or two. I’ve not seen polling on attitudes towards immigration in Scotland but I reckon a lot of the Yes voting areas will be of a similar demographic to those who voted Brexit in England and Wales who were quite concerned at the level of immigration…It’s something to think about!!

  18. @STATGEEK

    “59 can never out-vote 591 or 530, or even 326. When you accept that arithmetical fact, then you can accept the point I was making.”

    —————

    Well for a start, when the government doesn’t have a majority, either because didn’t vote outright or some of their MPs rebel, than actually 59 MPs can join forces with other parties and have clout.

    But it’s a straw man in terms of the point at issue, which was about trading one union for another. Because to say you have ‘no say’ denies the say you have in your devolved government, AND the clout you have – in terms of being able to leave – which is that you can press for things like devolution and Barnet!!

    Even when you had a lot fewer than 59 MPs.

    To focus on the number of MPs at Westminster and ignore the other clout you have is not a fair comparison with EU membership.

  19. Sorry for averting from the Scottish polling for a moment.

    The FT is reporting that a Trump aid accused Germany with using the “undervalued euro” to gain unfair advantages. Now, after China and Germany, Japan should also be a hostile opponent of the magic of Trump’s America.

    Also Tusk seems to have written an open letter.

  20. SEA CHANGE
    “Well I don’t want this to get Partisan so I’ll stick with the overall strategy. I think the biggest issue that the SNP will have to circumnavigate is when Holyrood receives powers back from the EU after Brexit”

    “How are they going to square the circle when they say they want to give them back again by leaving the UK and joining the EU and look credible”
    _________

    That’s a good question and it will be one to look out for in the event of an indy ref 2 campaign. However another conundrum might surface….During the last indy ref, remaining part of the EU was center stage for the No pro union side…Now they will have to tell voters why leaving the EU is in Scotland’s best interests.

    It’s going to be a jolly good ol ding-dong,

  21. because didn’t vote outright = because didn’t win the vote outright

  22. @allanchristie

    A YouGov poll showed 64% ( exc don’t knows) supported the SG proposals on the Single Market being put to the EU by the UK Government.

  23. @Hireton

    “Re signs at demos, I liked the understated one in America “I’m not normally a sign kind of guy but jeez”.”

    ————-

    Michael Moore said that was his favourite too…

  24. HIRETON

    Okay but who are the 36% who don’t like that proposal? How many of them are Yes/leave supporters? As OLDNAT and I were discussing last night there is a bit of churn between Yes voters who voted leave and No voters who voted remain with slightly more Yes/Leave voters going over to reaming part of the UK.

    This is where EFTA might come into play..

  25. @Alec

    “As with the UK, I have yet to see any real signs that the opposition understands why they lost.”

    ————–

    Well maybe they do. If you you look at polling they lost because vote split with UKip on the one hand because of liberal policies on immigration, and with greens/Don’t votes etc. on the other hand because of liberal policies on the economy.

    Consequently they might conclude that alliwing Blairites to continue the liberalism is not the answer. Especially since it didn’t work in 2010 either. Especially given liberalism resulted in Brexit here and the new president.

  26. LASZLO
    Sorry for averting from the Scottish polling for a moment.
    The FT is reporting that a Trump aid accused Germany with using the “undervalued euro” to gain unfair advantages. Now, after China and Germany, Japan should also be a hostile opponent of the magic of Trump’s America.
    Also Tusk seems to have written an open letter
    ________

    At this rate North Korea might be Trumps biggest trading partner.. ;-)

    However on China…I know TM has a difficult balancing act when dealing with Trump but I was however a little concerned when she bashed China on her visit to the White House.

    Gov.UK

    “China is the great economic success story of the past 30 years. It’s now the world’s largest economy and a huge and expanding market for UK businesses. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is the UK’s biggest exporter to China, but is just one of many UK companies now operating in this important market”

    Benefits for UK businesses
    There are a number of reasons to choose China as an export destination:

    largest country in the world by population with over 160 cities of more than a million inhabitants
    fast growing consumer market resulting from increasing number of middle income consumers
    growth ensured by Chinese monetary policy
    forecast to become the world’s largest luxury goods market by 2020
    …………..

    Post Brexit we will need good relations with China as well as with the US.

  27. Laszlo: “Now, after China and Germany, Japan should also be a hostile opponent of the magic of Trump’s America.”

    If there were any logic to Trump’s positions, you would have to add the UK to that list. With a massive trade surplus with the USA*, and a currency that has fallen 20% against the dollar, we should be prime candidates for hostile trade action. But maybe May’s invisible shield will protect us.

    * “In the time period 2005 to 2015, the UK has continually run a trade surplus with the USA with an average value of £28.1 billion. This figure peaked in 2013 at £40.3 billion and has since fallen to £39.4 billion in 2015.” – ONS

  28. @Alec

    Or to put it another way, there is the problem of being between a rock and a hard place. Accept the Liberalism and prolly won’t get elected, but even if they do they see more core support suffer and vanish over the longer term because year-on-year their situation declines in terms of real wages, property prices out of reach etc. etc.

    Or reject liberalism and be attacked from within by liberals and from outside in the media.

  29. @allanchristie

    Agreed. Presumably the full.tables are on the YG site. It had a 2000 sample size so the subsamples may be bigger than usual.

  30. Further to the two on-line petitions to Parliament re President Trumps visit. It has now been confirmed that both will be debateded in parliament on 20th Frebruary.

    What a waste of parliamentary time.

  31. As a Britisher living in the US in the state of Texas and somebody who supported the Democrat nomination for President ,my personal opinion of Trump is for or against and I’m firmly in the against camp we should not lose sight he was democratically elected on the very programs he now seeks to enact and he has a great deal of support amongst those who voted for him.

    As far as I can see those voices of support have yet to be heard in reporting of anything Trump does certainly here in the states and I suspect in the U.K. Its the same old voices who use to run the country the political establishment the left leaning press and the usual suspects in tinsel town who are making the most noise against Trump and as usual the “ordinary people” have no voice the very reason why Trump was elected in the first place.
    For those who point to the thousands of people who demonstrate against Trump here or in the U.K. The only observation I have is that the US is a country of millions of voters many of whom a few weeks ago elected Trump president and very few of which would have been demonstrating against Trump in the last few days.
    If all of the above sounds like support for Trump it’s not ,my own view is he rather like Corbin in the U.K. a political disaster waiting to happen.

  32. @Somerjohn

    So May is simultaneously too close to Trump and not close enough?

  33. @robin Holden

    “These ‘for’ and ‘against’ polls are an irrevelence.
    Scotland will never leave the U.K.”

    Do you think a thread on Scottish independence on a polling site is the best place for you to be then? :)

  34. Latest petition news:

    “Recall the UK ambassador to the USA in protest against the travel ban”

    6 signatures

  35. Neil A: “So May is simultaneously too close to Trump and not close enough?”

    Absolutely. Close enough to be a lapdog, too distant for decisive effect.

    Sucking up to a playground bully can be effective in the short term. It’s seldom a long-term solution.

    (I’m guessing your point was by way of undermining mine: I think, rather, it underlines it. But apologies if I’ve misinterpreted your intention).

  36. UK polling data on Trump – migrant ban and UK visit.

    “As the controversy around the Trump travel ban rages on, we’re starting to get the first snap polling on British opinions on it. Sky Data found that the public oppose a British replication of the ban 49-34, and by a slightly narrower margin of 49-38 they support cancelling the US President’s state visit.”

    from Matt Singh at NC Politics: https://www.ncpolitics.uk/2017/01/first-polling-on-trump-and-my-thoughts-on-stoke-and-copeland.html/

  37. We need a petition on synths…

  38. @ Sam and Alec

    Many Scottish farmers, probably most, are deeply worried.

    You probably didn`t see last night`s The Mart on BBC 1, but on it a Caithness farming family declared they were abandoning producing Half-breds after 4 generations, due to the current low prices and fear for the future.

    What so many in the UK don`t realise is that the cost of agricultural subsidies that they may save after 2020 will be dwarfed by the extra they will have to pay for the same farm products in supermarkets. Farmers like the Caithness brothers cannot keep producing on the current prices.

    So we will go back to wild swings in prices, with individual farmers opting for what they think will be profitable but having several-year lags when the market becomes over-supplied and they cannot immediately change stock and buildings.

  39. @sam @alec

    The info on farming Brexit is a very interesting specific example of a general issue which the UK Government will find increasingly prominent and difficult after Article 50 is triggered: how will post Brexit UK develop?

    Obviously that is connected with the EU settlement but very quickly interest groups and people more generally will want to know what will UK Governmnet policy be in areas which are being “repatriated”.

    Immigration, agriculture, environmental protection, research funding, and so on will all be areas of discussion and dispute. Citing the Great Repeal [aka Consolidation] Bill won’t hold the line for much longer. It’s going to be difficult because it will expose the different things which Brexiters thought they were voting for and the difficulty of satisfying everybody and also because it will be another layer of complex work for Parliament and the Civil Service.

    It will also expose more divisions in the Tory Party. For example, the right wing Atlanticists like Gove and Whittingdale are already trying to prepare the ground for large scale deregulation in industry through their involvement in the Brexit Select Committee which sets them against the stated May/Davis line on workers rights.

  40. One interesting connection between Trump and post Brexit UK is the language employed against opponents.

    This morning Trump sacked his Attorney General, accusing her of ‘betrayal’, when in fact, she was carrying out her job of ensuring laws were compatible with the constitution. Her duty is to the constitution, not the President, and with a good deal of legal opinion suggesting that Trump’s order is unconstitutional, she did what she felt she had to do. We can disagree on whether she was right or not (although that is really for US courts to decide) but to accuse her of betrayal by the president suggests he believes only his will matters.

    Over here, we’ve similarly had the threatening noises over judges ‘defying the will of the people’, and remainers asking valid questions facing similar threats.

    There is a danger that a poisonous atmosphere develops, with a consequent failure to appreciate how constitutions function. I’d say the US in particular is facing a gravely uncertain future, if the likes of Trump and Bannon continue on this path.

  41. Well they used to say MPs took letters seriously because a letter to an MP was worth a thousand votes or summat.

    In that for every person taking the trouble to write, there were plenty more bothered about the issue, albeit not quite enough exercised to write. Or maybe they don’t feel writing is their forte etc.

    Thus petitions, demonstrations might be seen in the same way, especially demonstrations as there may be many who support the cause but unable to attend because work, ill, carer etc.

    Bit like, you know, polling is taken to be representative of a greater number…

  42. Carfrew
    The difference is that polling attempts to be a random cross-section whereas petitions are signed by people interested in the subject, which might be quite a small minority.

  43. As this is a Scottish thread, what do people make of the following:

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15056358.Ministers_of_accused_of_treating_Holyrood___39_with_contempt__39__over_missing_Bills/

    quote

    Nicola Sturgeon said in her September programme for government statement she would introduce 14 bills in 2016-17, but so far only four have been laid at parliament.

    …The Scottish Tories’ constitution spokesman Professor Adam Tomkins said “It has been ten months since any legislation has been brought before the Chamber and the SNP has denied Parliament the chance to properly scrutinise the Government over important matters like the Budget and Scotland’s failing education system. ”

    end quote

    They’ve been sitting around for ten months collecting pay with nothing to debate?

  44. @JASPER22

    “Salon Lovers are those Tuscany loving, muesli munching, sandal wearing “liberals”… etc. etc.

    And, starting with Roy Jenkins , have ruined the working man’s Labour Party.
    The party of Jeremy Thorpe is there natural home.”

    ————

    Now, see, while there’s summat in locating when Liberalism took root in the Labour party, by jet leaving it there not only does it tend towards the partisan but it misses the meat of the bigger picture and interesting stuff contained therein.

    Thus, while it’s true that by the late Sixties, Liberalism was clearly underway in Labour with Jenkins’ social policies, meanwhile Liberalism was getting embraced within Tories, notably within the Selsdon set. with Heath among their number, the minute he was elected he instigated liberalisation of banking, with a deregulation that soon saw us suffering the Secondary Banking crisis.

    Facing a banking crisis and oil crisis Heath then backtracked a bit on the liberalism which didn’t please Thatcher, so we had to wait a bit for the fuller incarnation. It’s useful to note that while Labour adopted social liberalism, Tories adopted economic liberalism. With the advent of Blair of course, Labour then adopted economic liberalism as well, while Tories under Cameron later adopted social liberalism. Thatch of course backtracked a bit herself later on, notably on Europe.

    To bring things up to date, obviously we have seen the demise of Cameron et al, and meanwhile Blairites no longer lead Labour. Difference is, Tories didn’t allow as many liberalista MPs to be parachuted in, making it easier to switch back. Corbynites prolly have to see off the Blairites before seriously entertaining power again.

    I should add, that you can see within this that a certain amount of liberalism might be electorally attractive, and indeed acceptable to traditional party members of Tory and Labour alike. Thus, peeps might like the anti-discrimination and social justice policies of social liberalism, or the idea of a bit more free trade where useful.

    But when this liberalism becomes more extreme, proactively enabling or even forcing loads of free movement or globalisation etc. even when these things have increasingly worrying knock on effects, then there might be a backlash. History shows that backlash itself can have certain worrying features that can get rather out of hand…

  45. @Scotspeeps

    I should add that thus increasing liberalism may also have had an impact in Scotland and assisted the rise of the SNP…

  46. @Pete B

    Yes, of course, that’s true about polling. I wasn’t saying petitions and polling are equivalent in all respects. Just that support for an issue may not be confined to just those actually signing a petition, in the same way support for Tories is not confined to those polled.

  47. @Somerjohn

    A bit of both. Partly I was highlighting what I sometimes see as a tendency to redefine the basis of a discussion based on what the “correct answer” someone wants to arrive at is (ie in a discussion about immigration, Trump and May are as thick as thieves, in a discussion about trade deals, May is an irrelevant patsy being strung along by Trump – or, in a discussion about benefits, the country is full of able-bodied folk desperate for work, but in a discussion about immigration and jobs, the country is full of desperate employers who can’t find anyone to take any jobs).

    But yes, to some extent it was also a genuine question. It’s perfectly possible as you say for someone to strive for the ideal middle position and in the process come away with nothing.

  48. @Sam

    I think Mr O’Toole is blending some valid facts with some strong opinion and hyperbole.

    There’s no doubt that of all the constitutional and economic issues Brexit throws up, the status of Northern Ireland is one of the trickiest. Now that it seems that the government does not intend for any part of the UK to remain in the Single Market, then there clearly has to be a very awkward solution for the Island of Ireland. Either politically awkward, with some convoluted agreements on partial memberships/exemptions for certain categories of goods/people in any future relationship between the UK and the EU, or physically awkward, in the form of some kind of border checks on imported/exported goods and an increased level of delineation on the border. It was very “brave” (in Yes, Minster terms) of the DUP to support Brexit.

    I think placing Northern Ireland outside the UK’s border controls is unlikely but not impossible.

    But in the spin that Mr O’Toole puts on this, I think there are strong lashings of Old Irish Socialist Republican. The UK government is not run by “English Nationalists”. “British Nationalists” perhaps, but I see no reason to believe that Westminster is keen to cut off economic support to Northern Ireland.

    And I am not sure I buy his logic that in the event of having to show your UK passport at Stranraer that this would somehow enrage or estrange Northern Irish Unionists from the UK. I am sure they would find it an annoyance, but most of them wouldn’t have to do it often, if ever. Perhaps a small proportion of the minority of people travelling who have “soft” unionist views might waver. But that is, what, a few percentage points of the total electorate of NI?

    I also think there is another dynamic at play. Hard Brexit followed by a bad deal (or no deal) would go very hard on the Republic. I accept that the UK government is more likely to get the blame for this than anyone, but in a similar way to which Mr O’Toole imagines Westminster kicking Northern Ireland’s legs away, I think the long term effect of the EU putting barriers in the way of Irish trade with the UK could be negative, especially if the EU doesn’t compensate with very generous support and treatment for the Irish.

  49. Neil A: “But yes, to some extent it was also a genuine question.”

    Well, I hope I’m not guilty of the sort of double standard in debate that you mention. I’ve examined my conscience and can’t think of any examples, but then we’re all pretty poor at identifying our own shortcomings.

    My real concern about relying on a close relationship with Trump is that he is so manifestly an unreliable, quicksilver partner. I worry that he only needs to feel slighted once and his current best mate will transform overnight into sworn enemy. And then where will we be, having spurned Europe and then been spurned by the USA?

  50. I suppose the answer to the rhetorical question in my last sentence is: The Spurner Spurned.

    Say it a few times to yourself. It has a certain magic. A weird hybrid of The Turner Prize and The Biter Bit. What a wonderful language we have.

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